Ahhh, this post has been on my mind for literally 2 months and I’m finally going to write it, after getting a lot of questions on Instagram about how our twins have become such great sleepers! The good news is, I wrote a pretty comprehensive schedule for my mother in law when Mike’s parents took the twins for a full weekend when they were 5 months old, so I figured I’d just share that for all of you in a quick download and use yourself if you’d like!
Starting Good Sleep Habits With Our Newborn Twins
Even in the first month after the twins were born, I tried to implement certain sleep principles that I knew would encourage them to eventually sleep through the night. Those things include encouraging them to sleep in their bassinet at night and sometimes for naps, using white noise & a swaddle, watching their sleep signals and attempting to put them down “drowsy but awake.” Did we feed the twins to sleep many, many times? Yes. Did we let the twins sleep in the Rock n’ Plays and swings? Yes. Did we take them all over the place with us and have them step in their car seats all the time? Yes. Did we let the twins sleep on us on the couch at 9 PM while we watched TV? Yes.
But, when I had the chance in the haze and fog of newborn days, I did try at times (emphasis on try) to implement some solid sleep habits. The babies were on no sort of routine or schedule and did not even have a real bedtime (in the early days it was basically when we went to sleep and they often fell asleep in our arms or in the Rock n’ Play while we watched TV and we’d transfer them to their bassinet). We didn’t officially start a schedule of any sort until around five months and that worked for us since we had a 2 year old’s schedule to deal with. Around two or three months, I did start to watch the twins’ wake times and put them down for their naps when they reached the max awake time using this wake time window chart. Their nighttime sleep really started to improve around 3 months old and most nights they were each waking just once to eat at this time (which to me, is a big turning point for my own ability to function!).
Why I Decided to Start Sleep Training Our Twins
Why did we decide to sleep train our twins at five months? The dreaded four month sleep regression. It hit one of our girls, Rowan, HARD. She was waking up multiple times a night, even when she was clearly not hungry, and was hard to put back to sleep. Naps were affected by the 4 month sleep regression but not as much as nighttime sleep. I’m super thankful that it didn’t affect Scarlett as much because if they’d both been through it, I’d be drowning( it just so happened that their nearly 3 year old sister decided to have a sleep regression of her own at this time, and was fighting bedtime, waking in the night because she was scared and waking up for the day at ungodly times). So between Rowan waking multiple times, Scarlett occasionally waking (Rowan would sometimes wake her up, but usually wouldn’t actually), and Siena coming into our bed in the night, my husband Mike and I were walking zombies.
The other reason we sleep trained? My husband and I were taking a 2 night vacation away from the kids and I didn’t want my in-laws who were watching them to never babysit again!
Five Month Sleep Schedule for Twins
So after doing what most moms do and asking people on Instagram for ideas on where to start sleep training the twins, I ended up purchasing the book The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5. I also did some research on sleep training twins and decided that I would always wake the twins up at the same time or within 15 minutes of each other (which we we were not doing) so that I could get some stuff done while they napped.
I was prepared to do cry it out if necessary, which we did not do with Siena (she slept through the night around 5.5 months on her own). However, after just four days after getting consistent with their schedules and making the changes below, a few things happened: The twins went down for their naps easier, they were happier throughout the day, my husband and I felt like we had more control over our lives, and THE TWINS SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!
Changes I Made To Get The Twins to Sleep Through The Night
- I started tracking the twins feedings and sleep times. I wrote down exactly when they woke up and went to sleep and how much they ate (I was nursing just once a day and then pumping and supplementing with formula) so that I was confident they were getting enough milk during the day
- Switched out the nipples on the bottles to level 2 or 3 so the milk came out of the bottles faster. I encouraged them to eat as much as possible between naps but didn’t track what time they ate (at first I couldn’t get them to eat more than 4 oz between feedings but gradually as the nighttime feedings decreased I was able to get more in during the day)
- Started consistently doing a dream feed
- Implemented a 7 PM bedtime and consistent, short bed and nap time routine
- Limited wake time to 2 hours MAX
- When they woke in the night, I did not feed them unless they seemed very hungry (used pacifier and rocked to sleep if necessary but tried to not do this).
- If they fussed before a nap or bed time, I set a timer for 5 minutes before I’d go in. Rarely did they fuss/cry longer than that.
Download my Free 5 Month Sleep Schedule For Twins (or Singletons too)
As I said, my husband and I took a weekend long trip away from our twins at 5 months. My mother in law had expressed gratitude in the past that I had my toddler on a sleep schedule so I knew that she liked instructions. I wrote her a detailed instruction sheet with the twin’s schedule and some guidelines on it (more info on the dream feed, how long before bed the third nap should be, etc,). I figured I’d share it with you guys too! Click here to download my free 5 month old sleep schedule that got my twins sleeping through the night! Please feel free to comment on this blog post or reach out to me on Instagram with any specific questions you may have after reading my download.
Remember, this is what worked for us – every baby is different and every parent has a different take on how to approach sleep training. It may take some tweaking to make it work for you. If you need support/help with the middle of the night feedings, I do recommend the book as it helps you wean them slowly from night feedings so that you know they aren’t hungry when they wake in the night and possibly cry.